Fennesz Wozencroft – Liquid Music (Touch) USB Drive & Tim Wright – 8 Switches (Entr’acte) USB Drive
The shelf life of the humble USB stick as a format for audio/visual art seems limited at best but – for now, at least – it’s a pretty nifty way to package high-res content. The frame rates of these releases’ visual components are so high that the viewer might be forgiven for starting to feel like s/he could reach right into the screen. And the packaging is, in both cases, certainly remarkable.
Liquid Music is a collaboration between Touch head honcho Jon Wozencroft and Bubblegum Cage III hero Christian Fennesz. Wozencroft’s visuals consist mainly of digital video close-ups of rushing water, often with a “stripey” effect similar to what you might see were you sitting too close to a tube TV. Very evocative, actually.
It seems to be the same set of visuals Fennesz used at Seattle’s Decibel festival back in 2006. The audio portion, though, comes from a live set dating back as far 2001 and draws heavily on Fennesz’s never-bettered Endless Summer album. Basically, it sounds like a less noisy version of the great man’s Live in Japan album, which may seem a little redundant but who cares when the quality’s this high?
The packaging is another matter. The drive comes in an appallingly tacky black velveteen back with a lace drawstring. It looks like it should contain plastic unicorn models for an off-brand role-playing game. What were they thinking??? The drive itself is more appealing, being the general size and shape of a credit card, with a neat little section that folds out to plug into your computer.
In any case, if you’re a Fennesz fan, you’ll want to own this.
In terms of simple object value, though, it can’t hold a candle to Tim Wright’s 8 Switches. In typical Entr’acte style, this release comes in a vacuum-sealed plastic bag. The drive itself is an astonishingly elegant little brushed-metal number, with the relevant artist, title and label details engraved upon it. This thing is a seriously gorgeous piece of industrial design.
The A/V content is pretty bloody fantastic too. A mixture of op-art graphics and classic Mego/Raster-Noton-style digital electronica, similar to Theo Burt’s phenomenal Colour Projections DVD ROM (also on Entr’acte) but with the psychedelic head-fuck quotient turned waaaay up. Those of you who are prone to seizures might want to avoid this one. The rest of you need to buy it right now and get ready to pumpchaosintoyourmind.
To be fair, 8 Switches does have its share of sparse, contemplative moments. Still, the overall effect is quite brain-bending and the fact that it’s all delivered via an almost weightless little nugget of brushed metal is genuinely uncanny.